Development of a sensory lexicon and sensory wheel for rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and the role of its phenolic composition on taste and mouthfeel.

Koch, Ilona Sabine (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis (MSc Food Sc)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The sensory characteristics and chemical composition of rooibos infusions were analysed to establish the extent of variation in sensory attributes and compositional parameters, and investigate whether correlations exist between the sensory characteristics and the phenolic composition. To capture as much potential variation as possible, 69 rooibos samples were collected throughout the 2009 harvesting season from different production areas. The samples were also representative of the different quality grades (A, B, C or D) which are based on the appearance of the leaves, and the colour and flavour of the infusion. Quantitative descriptive analysis was used to develop sensory profiles for each of the rooibos infusions. Considerable variation in the sensory characteristics was observed, highlighting the need for standardised terminology that can be used to describe what is often referred to as “characteristic” rooibos flavour. Aroma, flavour, taste, and mouthfeel descriptors were generated and assembled into a rooibos sensory wheel. The most recurring attributes were selected to compile a rooibos sensory lexicon which provides a definition and a reference standard for clarification of each term. A combination of “honey”, “woody” and “fynbos-floral” notes with a slightly sweet taste and subtle astringency may be regarded as “characteristic” rooibos attributes indicative of good quality tea. Pleasant “caramel” and “fruity-sweet” notes were also observed in a number of infusions, whereas negative descriptors, associated with poor quality rooibos, included “green” and “hay” flavours. Large variation in the composition of rooibos infusions was revealed through the quantification of soluble solids (SS), total polyphenols (TP), tannins and 14 monomeric phenolic compounds, as well as spectrophotometric colour measurements. High quality rooibos was associated with higher levels of SS, TP, tannins and phenolic compounds than low quality rooibos. Correlations between the compositional parameters and sensory attributes of the infusions indicated that several non-volatile compounds, including enolphenylpyruvic acid-2-glucoside, quercetin-3-glucoside, and iso-orientin, were associated with the characteristic sweet taste of rooibos, while bitterness was related to certain flavonoids such as luteolin, quercetin and aspalathin. The only compound significantly correlated to astringency was rutin, although it is likely that aspalathin and several other monomeric flavonoids also contribute to astringency. The tannin content was not associated with astringency possibly because of the limitations associated with the tannin quantification method. To determine whether compositional changes resulting from steam pasteurisation of rooibos leaves influence the sensory quality of rooibos infusions, differences in the phenolic composition and sensory attributes of infusions, prepared from unpasteurised and pasteurised rooibos, were analysed. Steam pasteurisation significantly reduced the SS, TP and aspalathin content of rooibos infusions, as well as the absorbance, especially at a wavelength of 450 nm. It also resulted in significant reductions in the intensities of most of the aroma and flavour attributes, especially the “green” notes associated with low quality rooibos. After steam pasteurisation the prominent “green” flavour of certain samples was frequently replaced by a “hay” flavour. The taste attributes, sweetness and bitterness, remained unchanged, whereas the astringency of rooibos infusions decreased significantly.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die sensoriese eienskappe en chemiese samestelling van rooibostee is geanaliseer ten einde die mate van variasie van die sensoriese sowel as die chemiese profiel te bepaal, asook om vas te stel of korrelasies bestaan tussen die sensoriese eienskappe en die fenoliese samestelling van rooibostee. Om soveel as moontlik potensiële variasie in te sluit, is 69 rooibos monsters tydens die 2009 oesseisoen van verskillende produksiegebiede versamel. Die monsters is ook verteenwoordigend van die verskillende kwaliteitgrade (A, B, C en D), wat op grond van die voorkoms van die teeblare, en die kleur en geur van die tee toegeken is. Kwantitatiewe beskrywende analise is gebruik om ‘n sensoriese profiel vir elke rooibostee op te stel. Aansienlike variasie in die sensoriese eienskappe is waargeneem. Dit het die behoefte aan gestandaardiseerde terminologie onderskryf, wat gebruik kan word om die term “karakteristieke” rooibos geur in meer detail te omskryf. Spesifieke terme vir aroma, geur, smaak en mondgevoel is geformuleer, en gebruik om ‘n sensoriese wiel vir rooibostee saam te stel. Terme wat die meeste voorgekom het, is gekies om in ‘n sensoriese leksikon vervat te word wat ‘n definisie en ‘n verwysingstandaard vir elke term voorstel. Die “karakteristieke” sensoriese eienskappe van goeie kwaliteit rooibostee kan soos volg gedefinieer word: ’n kombinasie van “heuning”, “houtagtige” en “fynbos-blom” geure met ‘n effense soet smaak en ‘n sagte vrankheid. Aangename “karamel” en “vrugtige-soet” geure is ook waargeneem, terwyl terme soos “groen” en “hooi” met swak kwaliteit rooibostee geassosieer is. Groot variasie in die samestelling van rooibostee is verkry deur kwantifisering van die inhoud van oplosbare vastestowwe (SS), totale polifenole (TP), tanniene, en 14 monomeriese fenoliese verbindings, asook spektrofotometriese kleurmetings. Hoë kwaliteit rooibostee is geassosieer met hoër vlakke van SS, TP, tanniene en fenoliese verbindings in vergelyking met lae kwaliteit rooibos. Korrelasies tussen laasgenoemde parameters en die sensoriese eienskappe het aangedui dat sekere nie-vlugtige verbindings, bv. fenielpirodruiwesuurglukosied, kwersetien-3-glukosied en iso-orientien, geassosieer is met die kenmerkende soet smaak van rooibos, terwyl ‘n bitter smaak geassosieer is met spesifieke flavonoïede soos luteolien, kwersetien and aspalatien. Die enigste verbinding wat betekenisvol gekorreleer het met vrankheid was rutien, maar dit is waarskynlik dat aspalatien en ander monomeriese flavonoïede ook bygedra het tot vrankheid. Die tannieninhoud het nie verband gehou met vrankheid nie, vermoedelik as gevolg van die beperkinge van die chemiese metode vir tannienbepaling. Om te bepaal of stoompasteurisasie van rooibos die sensoriese kwaliteit en chemiese samestelling van rooibostee beïnvloed, is die verskille in fenoliese samestelling en sensoriese eienskappe van die tee, berei van ongepasteuriseerde en gepasteuriseerde rooibos, ondersoek. Stoompasteurisasie het ‘n betekenisvolle verlaging teweegebring van die SS, TP en aspalatien inhoud, sowel as van die absorbansie van die tee, veral by ‘n golflengte van 450 nm. Dit het ook gelei tot ‘n statisties betekenisvolle vermindering van die intensiteit van die meeste aroma en geur eienskappe, veral die sogenaamde “groen” eienskap wat met swak kwaliteit rooibos verbind word. As gevolg van stoompasteurisasie is die opmerklike “groen” geur van sekere ongepasteuriseerde monsters herhaaldelik vervang deur ‘n “hooi” geur. Die smaakeienskappe, soet en bitter, was onveranderd, terwyl vrankheid statisties betekenisvol afgeneem het as gevolg van pasteurisasie.

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